We were on the island of Borneo 6 months ago in May and missed visiting the area around Miri, so we decided to come back to see some of the National Parks. Miri is a nice sized city but there are not a lot of sights to see in the city itself. The National Parks here were definitely worth seeing and we are glad we made the extra effort to come back to Borneo.
The first park we visited was Niah National Park:
Niah National Park is difficult to do as a day trip from Miri unless you are on an organized tour. We decided to take the local bus there and stay one night in the park and then take the bus back. That worked well for us but you can’t get all the way to the National Park, the bus stops at a junction but we were lucky and there was a minivan there that we could hire to take us the rest of the way to the park and we made arrangements with the driver to come back the next day to pick us up.
The Great Cave is an important historical site because human remains dating back 40,000 years have been found here. It’s a very long cave to get through and the boardwalk was treacherous because it was so slippery. Being Canadians, we are used to walking on ice but that didn’t prove to offer us any kind of help because we both had a hell of a time staying on our own two feet (at least this was one time I didn’t fall). Inside the cave we saw all kinds of makeshift bamboo ladders and ropes that men climb up to dangerous heights to reach the prized swiftlet ‘bird’s nest’ (used for bird’s nest soup) that they sell for a ridiculous amount of money. An average nest sells for around $2,500 USD per kilo and is mostly sold to Chinese consumers.
The Painted Cave is the cave that we ended our walk in and it had rock paintings that were 1200 years old and small wooden coffins made to look like little wooden boats (kind of creepy and interesting at the same time).
Our one night stay in the National Park was disgusting to say the least. The room was filthy and we are so thankful it was just one night. This meant no shower for either of us because we think we would have been dirtier going in the shower versus not. We slept in our awesome silk sleeping bags so we didn’t have to touch the sheets or anything and of course kept our shoes on at all times in the room. We had read that there was a canteen at the park for food so we went and checked it out….no way were we ordering anything there, it just wasn’t clean. So we ordered a sprite which was grossly overpriced and luckily we had a backpack full of snacks that could tide us over until we got back to Miri the next day. I’m so glad that I’m a snack hoarder because it has saved us a few times!
The next park we visited was Lambir Hills National Park:
We really enjoyed this park and it’s really close to Miri which made for an easy day trip. We took a taxi out there but flagged down a local bus at the end of the day for our return back to Miri.
Hiking here literally kicked our asses. It was very hard in the high humidity and there were a lot of really steep climbs and a lot of really steep declines with hardly any flat sections. We both bruised our toenails badly from our feet slamming to the front of our shoes on the declines, and Gordon ended up with some brutal blisters from the new kampung adidas (Malaysian made rubber shoes) that he was breaking in for our planned adventure in Gunung Mulu National Park. Even with the tough trekking we both felt it was worth the pain our poor feet went through to see the beautiful scenery inside the park. We even saw a beautiful whip snake climbing on a plant, it was the most brilliant green colour we have ever seen – I’m not a fan of snakes but this one was so graceful and the way it shimmered in the sun was beautiful. Too bad our camera was tucked away because it had started to rain so we just stood back and enjoyed watching it.
The National Parks were great to see and we were glad we took the time to explore them. Miri doesn’t have a lot to see in the city itself but it sure made for a good base.
Where we stayed in Miri: Nur Hotel
Where we stayed in Niah National Park: Chalet in the park